Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Qumo to Launch Three e-Ink Based eReaders in Russia This Autumn


There are three new ebook readers waiting to be unleashed in the Russian ebook scene, courtesy the Russian electronics company Qumo. The three ereaders are each aimed at different price segments, starting with the Libro Basic which is the cheapest of the lot at 2990 rubles or $89 USD. At this price point, it's just basic features that one should be expecting, which includes a Pearl e-ink display along with 4 GB of storage. The Libro Basic even lacks a wi-fi connection which means users will have to depend on an external computing device to feed the ereader with the reading materials.

Next up is the Libro Lux that offers the goodness of a Pearl e-ink display together with a few other goodies such as built in lighting, an audio player and a FM Radio. The extra features have also added to the cost, priced as it is at 4490 rubles or about $136 USD.

Thereafter, it is the Libro TouchLux that forms the top of the line model and is the costliest of the three, being priced at 5990 rubles, which comes to about $181 USD. The higher price tag is justified by the inclusion of a few more extra features such as a touchscreen interface added on top of the Pearl e-ink HD display having a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels. The Libro TouchLux runs on Android though the exact version remains undisclosed. Qumo is even pegging the device as a mini tablet, to some extent at least though its processing capabilities have been kept under wraps.

Among the features that is common for all the ereaders include 4 GB of RAM as well as the Pearl e-ink display that is exemplified by a higher contrast while still being battery efficient. All of the models are available in black and offer 6 inch of screen real estate.

Qumo has also not revealed when the three ereaders will hit streets in Russia, except that it's going to happen this autumn.

Qumo to Launch Three e-Ink Based eReaders in Russia This Autumn is a post from: E-Reader News

Batman ’66 Drops the Digital Bells and Whistles—But Just for a While


When DC Comics announced its digital-first DC2 line earlier this year, they also announced that the first comic to use that format would be Batman ’66. And indeed, the first three issues were done DC2 style, but as a glance at their comiXology page will show, the next six issues are not (DC gathers three digital-first comics into a single issue for print, so the covers are uniform across each arc).

As Batman ’66 writer Jeff Parker explains in this interview, the reason is simple: The DC2 stories take a lot longer to put together: “They won't all be enhanced because it's a labor intensive process and we'd blow all our deadlines if we did every one that way.” The DC2 storytelling style, like Mark Waid’s Thrillbent, involves a lot of extra pages: Most of the page may stay the same, but with a swipe the background might change color or a new panel or word balloon might appear. That adds up to a lot of extra work for the creators.

I checked in with Brandi Phillips of DC to see when we would see more DC2-style storytelling. She said, “There is no set schedule for when a chapter features DC2, it depends on the story and the artist.” The next issue of Batman ’66 to feature the DC2 storytelling will be released on September 9, and, she assured me, “there are more in the pipeline.”

Batman ’66 Drops the Digital Bells and Whistles—But Just for a While is a post from: E-Reader News

The Logistics Behind Indigo Tech

indigo tech

Indigo Tech is a new initiative by Chapters Bookstore and will put a heavy emphasis on tablets, e-Readers and Accessories all across Canada. Indigo Books barely mentioned this new program at their latest earnings call, but never really explained the logistics of what it is all about. Today, we have breaking news on exactly customers can expect in the coming weeks.

If you have ever shopped at a Chapters bookstore in Canada before, you might be familiar with their existing kiosk booths. They are basically a small table, with a number of Kobo e-Readers and accessories. The Indigo Tech area is increasing dramatically, with larger stores having 200 square feet devoted to showcasing technology. Aside from their normal portfolio of gadgets they are adding some new ones. What new stuff are they carrying? We spoke to a rep from Chapters that told me they will have – iPod Touch, iPad, iPad Mini, Jawbone, wireless speakers, Beats by Dr. Dre headphones, and Apple TV.  They also formed new partnerships with Fitbit, Cookoo, Jambox and a number of other companies.

When you shop at Chapters stores and have stopped by the old style kiosk booths, the representatives are not often very knowledgeable. This is mainly due to not having dedicated tech staff and often have a revolving cadre of customer service reps giving advice. Indigo Tech areas will have specialty trained staff  and the larger locations will have 4 dedicated staff members, whose sole job is to work on the tech area. These staff members go through Apple Training, at an official Apple retail store. They have to go through ten hours of training in order to be officially certified. This is mandated directly through Apple and was a perquisite of being an authorized dealer. The larger locations are training an additional three people for when the dedicated staff get sick or go on vacation.

Two locations in Ontario have already launched Indigo Tech areas and the main Vancouver flagship store is launching on August 28th. Chapters is working on the logistics of having 40 stores total up and running by the end of the year. Most of the tech areas are positioned right at the entrance of the store, in order to encourage people to look in the Window and check it out.

Revamping 40 stores is no small undertaking and involves a complete transformation of the retail spaces. There is a ton of costs involved in training and hiring additional staff to man the booths and offer sage advice. I find it amazing that Indigo PR does not issue press releases or interact with the media at all. They do not go out of their way to inform newspapers, television or websites like ours on exactly is involved with the roll out, or hype it up in anyway. The only reason I am breaking the news on this is because I am calling store managers, talking to staff and getting a sneak peak at the spaces before they are launched. Considering Chapters is Canada’s largest bookstore chain, they could be doing a better job at promoting Indigo Tech.

The Logistics Behind Indigo Tech is a post from: E-Reader News

Barnes and Noble Claims they will Continue to Make Tablets and e-Readers


A few months ago Barnes and Noble shocked the world when they said they were getting out of the device manufacturing business and splitting the company into two different segments. Today, the company totally reversed themselves, saying  "If we want to be in the content business, we need to be in the device business.”

Barnes and Noble organized an investors call today, the first one under Nook Media CEO Michael Huseby. They stated that the  Nook e-reader business, which includes hardware and digital content, logged revenues of just $153 million, down more than 20% from the same period a year ago. Hardware sales were down 23% and content sales were down almost 16%.

Michael Huseby mentioned “We have sold approximately 10,000,000 Nooks and our content activation levels need to better leverage that accomplishment. Therefore, we are implement programs to better serve our existing customer base and also aggressively exploring other target consumer markets with the potential to generate new revenue.”

One of the reasons Barnes and Noble is losing money on the Nook business is due to the sheer amount of inventory they have. "We overestimated demand for the products that we put out. As a result of that, we had to discount those products and we're selling them now. We don't want to be in that position again…eventually we'll move to a business of lower priced at higher volume."

He went on to say, "Our top priority in our operating strategy is to increase all categories of our content revenue. We are working on innovative ways to sell content to our existing customers and are exploring new markets we can serve successfully. The company intends to continue to design and develop cutting-edge NOOK black and white and color devices. We will continue to offer our award-winning line of Nook products including Nook Simple Touch, Nook Simple Touch with Glow Light, Nook HD and Nook HD+ at the best values in the marketplace. At least one new NOOK device will be released for the coming holiday season and further products are in development. All Nook devices will continue to be backed by world-class pre- and post-sales support in Barnes & Noble stores, as well as ongoing software upgrades and improvements to the digital bookstore service."

So basically everything Barnes and Noble has said during their last investors call is null and void. Investors in the company were shocked by the revelations made today and have little faith in a company bleeding money. People are very concerned that B&N is lacking a complete vision in Nook Media and are taking today’s announcements with a revamped website and new products, with a grain of salt.

Barnes and Noble Claims they will Continue to Make Tablets and e-Readers is a post from: E-Reader News

OverDrive Media Console 3.0 is Live!


OverDrive is proud to announce the release of OverDrive Media Console 3.0, which is now live for iOS and Android users. Once you update your OMC app on your smartphone or tablet you will see a number of new features including:

  • A redesigned user interface with an all-new look, streamlined navigation and a one-stop reorganized menu. App functions are just a swipe and tap away.
  • Users will be able to sync bookmarks and reading progress across multiple devices using a free, opt-in registration service called OverDrive One.
  • Variable speed playback for iOS: audiobook users' most requested feature.
  • Guidance for first time users: The app now prompts users to add libraries and get books.
  • System Requirements: OMC v3.0 for Android requires Android OS v4.0 (or newer). OMC for Android v2.6.6 will remain available for download. OMC for iOS requires iOS 6 (or newer).


The app can be downloaded from http://omc.overdrive.com/, the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. You can also view help videos for both iOS and Android devices here which will walk you through all of the apps new features. OverDrive Media Console v2.6.6 is still the current version for all other compatible devices.


Adam Sockel is a Marketing Communications Specialist at OverDrive. 

Open Road Media Takes on Tech Fund Investor NewSpring Capital


Open Road Media, a three-year-old company who started out as an ebook publisher, has quickly grown to one of the most widely recognized names in digital publishing and ebook distribution. In the time since their official launch, Open Road now has a catalog of over 4,000 titles that they have either published or produced the digital version for, making them one of the highest trafficked digital-only entities.

Now, Open Road has announced its deal with NewSpring Capital, a

According to a blog post on the venture from Open Road Media’s co-founder and CEO Jane Friedman:

"As we continue to build Open Road into the premier digital publishing and marketing company, we welcome NewSpring Capital with all its experience in the digital space. With their support and with the continued backing of existing investors Kohlberg Ventures, Azure Capital, and Golden Seeds, Open Road is the company that is looking to the future. It will become the model for the twenty-first century publishing and digital media company."

The post went on to explain:

Mike DiPiano, managing general partner of NewSpring, who now joins Open Road's board of directors, said, "There is huge disruption in the publishing industry as business models are rapidly evolving and ebooks are becoming a greater share of overall trade book sales. Open Road, as a digital publisher of ebooks with a focus on the vast number of backlist titles, is perfectly poised to deliver value to its authors, as its marketing approach uniquely focuses on authors as brands and systematically creates authentic connections between the authors and the reader. Jane and her talented team have developed a proven, scalable publishing and marketing platform and we are excited to join the company in its future trailblazing in the industry."

The goal for this new deal is to help Open Road make some industry-changing innovations, especially in the area of technology and acquisitions on a global scale.

Open Road Media Takes on Tech Fund Investor NewSpring Capital is a post from: E-Reader News

Digital Newspapers as a Means of Limiting News Access?

Ecuador NSA Surveillance Snowden

What’s one sure fire way to prevent the masses from from rioting over unpopular presidential decisions? Make sure they don’t know about them.

According to an article by Amar Toor for The Verge, Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa is introducing legislation to demand that all newspapers in the country move to digital-only publication. This move, which the president claims is intended to stop the deforestation of the country’s landscape and cut down on the fuel consumption associated with printing, shipping, and delivering the newspapers, may actually be a calculated move to stop the opposition-rich media from reaching subscribers with news of Correa’s activities.

Correa is currently under fire for his decision to open up almost 4,000 square miles of the rainforest in the country to oil drilling, a strange decision from a man whose determined to stop the oil waste brought on by the newspaper industry. This is not the first time that Ecuador’s media has lashed out over the president’s actions.

Earlier, when the UN moved to block the drilling in Ecuador’s Yasuni region, President Correa stated that he would not allow the oil drilling if the country was given a total of $3.6 billion, paid out by other nations. The actual amount of international donations fell very short of Correa’s lofty goal, and he is now considering the drilling once again.

But digitizing the newspapers is one potential way that Correa could sneak his measures past a voting population. In a country where only 25% of the adult population is reported to work full-time and the average household income is $4,500.00 per year, access to devices and mobile connection services may be limited. In a country where only 27% of the population is reported to have internet access forcing newspaper to be strictly digital will mean a significant portion of the population will be cutoff from news access and more importantly, a clear picture of the activities of their government.

Digital publishing was supposed to be a step towards an environmentally sound portal through which geographically diverse populations could instantaneously reach various media, but there is also a justifiable backlash for print in instances where consumers are being deceived.

Digital Newspapers as a Means of Limiting News Access? is a post from: E-Reader News

New Nexus 7 (2013) review

The new Nexus 7 has the highest ppi screen (323) on the market. It’s easier to hold than a paper-back book, and it’s responsive as heck. Put all that together, and you’ve got one killer device.


For reading, it’s nigh impossible to beat the new Nexus 7. Seriously, the screen and features are just that good, and it starts at just $229. Even Engadget says, “The display is the best we’ve seen on a small tablet . . .”


The only potential weakness I’ve found with the new Nexus 7 is that the battery life isn’t amazing (though it isn’t horrible). On average, you can expect a day and a half to two days use.


Oh, that screen


Did I mention the screen is gorgeous? The color reproduction isn’t perfect, but it’s close, and the clarity is unsurpassed. I defy you to find a pixel with your naked eye. At 323 ppi and1920 x 1200, you’d have to have some insanely good vision.


There are 323 tiny pixels crammed into each square inch of that screen. The iPad with Retina Display, for comparison’s sake, boasts 264 (which is still high). The iPad has a very, very good display, but the Nexus 7′s is just a bit better.


Will Apple beat 323 ppi with their next set of tablets? Maybe, but it won’t change the fact that the Nexus 7′s screen is downright awesome. The sharpness and clarity aren’t just pretty, they’re also better for your eyes. Here’s an article from when the Retina iPad came out that explains more, but basically, sharper screens equal less eye strain.


Build and form factor


The new Nexus 7 also feels pretty sleek. The Corning glass feels awesome, and the back has a nice, and somewhat grippy rubberized texture. The buttons aren’t up on the very edge of the device (near the screen), but down a bit on the curve (you’ll know what I mean when you pick one up) which takes a little getting used to, but it’s easy after a few presses.


There’s still no SD card slot (booo), but the micro USB port supports USB OTG, which means you can get a little USB adapter for less than $4.00 and plug in external storage if you want. In short, if you’re low on space, just move some audiobooks and comics to an external USB drive.


The bezels on the top and bottom are pretty large, whilst the ones on either side are very, very narrow. Holding it in landscape is thumb-friendly, and the narrow form factor allows for a one-handed grip in portrait even if you have relatively small hands.  Oh, and it’s apparently very durable.




This thing runs Android 4.3, which is pretty sweet. As you may know, the operating system is extremely customizable and has a wealth of apps to choose from.


Yes, iOS has a higher quantity of tablet-optimized apps, but, essentially, I think the app race between these two giants has become something of a wash in most cases. If not, it will be soon with Android’s recent surge in tablet popularity.


So what’s the verdict?


This thing is awesome. I work with, test, and use a whole lot of devices every day here at OverDrive. I get to play with all of the major new tablets as they launch, and have a good idea of what each can do.


If battery life is the most important consideration for you, you might want to pick a different tablet (like an iPad with Retina display). But the battery life isn’t horrid–it won’t keep you tethered to a wall socket all day long, and it can charge extra fast with a Qi wireless charger.


I read a ton of eBooks, and I’ve done so on a ton of different screens. It makes me extra sensitive to display quality, and let me tell you, ASUS and Google have knocked it out of the park on the new Nexus 7.


So if you surf the web a lot, read a lot of eBooks, or play a lot of HD games, this is the tablet for you. At $229 (16 GB), you get oodles of bang for your buck–one of the best deals on the market.


For anyone who is interested, the Nexus 7 (32 GB) would look beautiful in my Christmas stocking (I’m subtle).


If they stepped up the game this much on the Nexus 7, I can’t wait to see the next iteration of the Nexus 10.


Quinton Lawman is a Technical Writer with OverDrive

eBook Readers For The Disabled: Are There Enough Choices Available?


eBooks might be all the rage right now and rightfully so, though unfortunately those with physical disabilities could be deprived of all the benefits that the digital version of books can offer. There seems to be just not enough ebook readers out there that those users more pronounced forms of disabilities can make the most of.

"Consider people who want to read but have motor difficulties and aren’t able to easily turn the page of a book. Being able to just touch the screen or tap a button to move through a book is a fantastic breakthrough. That button could even be connected via Bluetooth and pressed by the nudge of a head or triggered by the blink of an eye. Think carefully before choosing your device, however, as by no means all of them offer this capability," said Robin Christopherson a founding member of the UK based technology charity AbilityNet.

"Unless the ebook has been made accessible by the publisher and the device made accessible by the manufacturer, then the benefits can't be enjoyed by the disabled user," Christopherson, who himself is visually impaired, further added.

Manufacturers of ereaders seem least interested in promoting their devices among the disabled, something borne out by the recent attempts by Sony, Amazon, and Kobo to seek permanent exemption of ereaders from the Federal Accessibility Law. The companies argued that they manufacture devices that just display text and therefore should not be included under the federal law which makes it mandatory for advanced communication services to be accessible to the disabled. (FCC is seeking comments on this until September 3, 2013).

With the present crop of ebook reading devices, Robin believes it is the Apple iPad that seems most suited for use by the disabled.

"Personally, I think that i-devices such as iPads and iPhones are the most accessible to the broadest possible audience, and they too have good ebook reading software already installed as well as being able to run Kindle software," said Christopherson, while adding that the Kindle range of ereaders lacks accessibility features.

"As a great starting point, I would recommend the RNIB website page, which outlines the various devices and their features that are out there," Robin further suggested.

eBook Readers For The Disabled: Are There Enough Choices Available? is a post from: E-Reader News

Nintendo audio – on analogue instruments

I don’t know much about this project. I spotted it earlier today on Twitter, where all I had to go on was this:

So I clicked on the link, which took me to YouTube – and I found this. Matt’s right. His friend Dave is a genius.

What you’re seeing and hearing here is the music and sfx from Mario, Mario 2, Mario 3 and Zelda, played on a player piano and robotic percussion, all mediated by a couple of Raspberry Pis. In the “About” section under the video, Dave says:

The piano and percussion play live during actual gameplay, mirroring the sounds that would normally be created electronically by the NES. All audio, including music and sound effects, is translated in realtime so that it is produced by the instrument most closely resembling the characteristics of the original electronic sound.


0:00 - Mario
0:53 - Mario 2
2:59 - Mario 3
4:06 - Zelda
6:02 - Mario 2 (End Theme)

For those interested in the technical details, both the piano and the percussion use solenoids to drive their player mechanisms. The piano uses Yamaha’s Disklavier system to strike keys, and the percussion uses a custom solution to strike the drum sticks. Both the piano and percussion are each controlled by Raspberry Pis which have custom software to control each instrument. The software is responsible for translating the NES audio to instructions which ultimately define which solenoid should be actuated. In full disclosure, there is normally a half-second audio delay that was removed in editing, but it’s still very playable live. The piano is controlled through the Disklavier’s MIDI interface, while the percussion’s solenoids are directly controlled through the Pi’s GPIO interface.

Dave, we thought this was amazing. Get in touch when you see this; we’d like to know more about who you are and what else you’ve been doing with your Pis!

NFC Enabled Smartphone Successfully Transmits Power and Image to E-Ink Display


NFC is fast becoming a standard feature among the premium as well as the not so premium Android devices. However, while this technology enables compatible devices to transmit data simply by tapping them together, there could be other uses the NFC tech could be put to. Take for instance the recent endeavor attempted by Intel along with researchers from the University of Washington and the University of Massachusetts which successfully demonstrated the Near Field Communication technology can also be used to transmit energy as well across compatible devices.

The demonstration used a NFC enabled smartphone along with a separate e-ink display wherein an image – some contact information – was successfully transmitted to the e-ink screen without the latter requiring a power source of its own. The virtues of an e-ink display are already well known as these require the least power backup, only draining the battery when showing a new image. There will be no power drawn when the same image remains displayed on the screen.

The benefits of such a setup can be immense. For the secondary e-ink display can be used to display static images such as ticketing information, a map or such data. What is even more amazing is that the e-ink display won't require a power source of its own as the power required to display the image is transmitted through NFC itself. When a new image is required to be displayed, the same can be transmitted from the smartphone via NFC. This way, one can have a secondary display based on e-ink technology that can be used to carry an image for almost as long as one might wish to. However, this is just a technology demonstrator with no mention of how the same could be put to commercial use.

Meanwhile, here is also a video of the same to let you have a better idea of it all.

NFC Enabled Smartphone Successfully Transmits Power and Image to E-Ink Display is a post from: E-Reader News

Morgan Stanley Analyst looks at Amazon Kindle e-Reader Sales


It is no secret that Amazon keeps all sales data private and never divulges sales data on Kindle Fire and e-Readers. An analyst from Morgan Stanley is trying to crack the code and has some fairly interesting data.

In a report released last week, Morgan Stanley is proclaiming that Amazon will sell $4.5 billion worth of Kindle e-readers and tablets this year, up 26% from 2012. This increase is due to more brand awareness and three new tablets and an e-Reader to be announced in September.

The report stated that “Growth will slow next year, when the business will do $5 billion in sales, Morgan Stanley estimates, followed by similarly modest growth in 2015, when Amazon will do an estimated $5.5 billion in Kindle sales.”

$5.5 billion is a fair amount of sales but keep in mind that, in 2012, Amazon’s total revenue was a whopping $61 billion, with forecasts for 2013 somewhere between $73 and $76 billion. Most of this stems from eBook and sales through their massive e-commerce system. The company has also been on an expansion tear, launching in Japan, China and India.

One of the ways Amazon maximizes their revenue stream is to avoid paying taxes by having offices in Ireland and other tax friendly countries. In the UK alone, Amazon made £4 billion in revenues in 2012. In contrast, for the same fiscal period, they paid a total of £2.4 million in taxes. That’s £0.1m short of the government grant they received to expand the company’s warehouse operation in Scotland.

Morgan Stanley Analyst looks at Amazon Kindle e-Reader Sales is a post from: E-Reader News